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Breaking Bad (review, spoiler alert!)


Character development at its best. At first  I was reluctant, not wanting even to watch episode one, season one, of this series. In spite of my reluctance, the name of the series kept on popping up in random conversations with my friends, and Netflix continued to suggest it based on my interests. I finally gave it a shot and was extremely satisfied with not only the quality of the acting, of the film (filmed in 35 mm film), but also on the strength of the story itself.



Walter White, the protagonist of the series, is a high school, genius chemistry teacher who is diagnosed with Stage IIIA lung cancer. After being told that the cancer was inoperable, and sneaking a peek into his bank account, he realizes his financial situation isn't healthy at all, worse off when he is offered medical treatment costing hundreds of thousands of dollars. Shit truly hit the fan for Mr. White. With less than a year to solve his financial crisis and having to pay a bucket load of cash for his treatment, Walter White recurs to a less reputable business to ensure his family's financial situation before he lays down on his deathbed. His brother-in-law, a DEA agent, spoils hims by saying a meth-cook may make up to seven hundred grand in less than a couple of batches of methamphetamine. Being a chemistry genius, he has no problem in conjuring the most perfect, purest recipe for cooking meth. He wouldn't imagine hell would break loose while dealing with the maniacs in this dark business. He thought he would be staying within the confinement of his RV meth-lab and living his normal parallel life.



At the beginning the purpose of the series was for Walter to justify the "righteous" act of providing for his family's future when it meant going to the dark-side of money-making by not selling, but actually making the drugs: cooking meth (a.k.a crystal meth, ice, clouds, crystal, glass, tik, catch my drift?). It felt wrong but somehow, the fact that he was desperately struggling to keep his family from falling into the brink made the illicit act seem righteous.
Molecular visuals of METH.
Did you know that meth has a medical use? It's used for ADHD, narcolepsy, and treatment-resistant depression.


After many attempts to sell what was renown as the purest meth out there, "the blue stuff", Walter and Jesse (his partner, a former high school student who is known to be a mediocre meth-cook) found trench after trench, failing at their attempts to make money by selling their product, which albeit highly addictive, always seemed to fall into the wrong hands. Fail after epic-fail, they found themselves delving into the dark-world of selling drugs, not at all expecting it to be such a treacherous path. They then recur to an alternate source of selling their genius-formula by contacting a fearless and very well respected business man and drug lord, a strategy they would eventually regret. 



For me the series has been very enjoyable, with more than just a great story-line and more than just action-and-adventure psychological excitement. Character development was the biggest takeaway for me from this series: How a man in search of a path, once thought righteous and bittersweet, found that he, in the contrary of rejecting the darkest parts of himself as he deepened into the dark-side, embraced them--the bitter portions of darkness gone after a prolonged dose of positive reinforcement upon earning heaps of cash by selling batch after batch of meth. How the character devolves was supremely achieved by the actor, Brian Cranston, winning him the Prime Time Emmy Award for three consecutive years in 2008, 2009, and 2010. 



In parallel with Walter's charter development, I also admire Jesse Pinkman's (Aaron Paul) devolution into a darker creature, more menacing, less tolerant and much less merciful. If he started out as a meth-head, he slowly turned into an character of many layers, of half-patched hidden depths. After having suffered beatings, the death of his true-love, and warming up to the idea of shooting people in the face, Pinkman becomes a man to fear, a man who has seen too much and is willing to die even if it means to defend what little is left of the world he loves. 



At the beginning of each episode, I was a little bothered by knowing I would have to watch so many more episodes that were fifty minutes long each, but hell, the production and quality of each one is so good that once you start watching it, you're lured into its mind-gripping world; you can't just shake it off. You'll end up watching the whole series in a matter of weeks.

Season 5 is said to bring us a total of 16 episodes, divided in two parts. The first part was debuted last year, and the second part will be premiered in August 2013. It will surely be a blast as Mr. White's, Jesse's, Skyler's and Hank's future is wagered by the odds.

DISCUSSION:

I've asked myself many times these two questions in the midst of each episode:

Could a series like this one actually increase the production of the drug "meth" by amateurs in their own "RV super lab"? Or could it, in the contrary, decrease the amateur production and consumption of the drug after seeing what effects it has on peoples' lives and the appalling consequences it could have to their families? 






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